Crime wave hits New York churches

From the New York Daily News: 

Is nothing sacred?

Priests at some Bronx churches have seen an uptick in crimes inside and around their houses of worship.

Purses are stolen from pews during Communion. Cars parked outside get broken into during Mass.

“It’s very sad,” said Rev. Francis Skelly of Immaculate Conception Church in Melrose. “You have to pray with one eye open.”

One priest even had a chain snatched off his neck in front of his church, St. Nicholas of Tolentine in University Heights.

“I see this guy running across the street,” said the Rev. Joseph Girone. “As soon as he crossed me, he just yanked it from my neck and kept running.”

“In a way, it’s a blessing,” Girone said of being victimized. “When someone tells me they’ve been through a crime, I can say, ‘Yeah, me too.’”

Crime is plaguing the church, a grand cathedral at Fordham Road and University Ave. A purse was stolen during a funeral; kids broke into the church gym twice in the past month; a man steals from offering boxes, using a hanger to fish out dollar bills; and a mentally ill man broke a statue, shattered a glass pane on a door, and threw a Communion cup to the floor during Mass.

Thefts and car break-ins are common lately at Immaculate Conception Church in Melrose, the Rev. Francis Skelly said.

“You park your car in front of my church, it’s going to get broken into,” Skelly said. “They know they’re in here for an hour. It’s taking advantage.”

Skelly said at least five cars were burglarized since September. And enough women have told Skelly of thefts from pews that he advises everyone during Mass to take their bags with them to Communion.

Frances Wright, 46, carries her purse to the Host grudgingly.

“It’s quite embarrassing when you have to do that,” Wright said. “You feel you’re not humble.”

There’s more. Read on.